Alexander Oni

Everything You’ve Always Wanted to Know About Protecting Your Cyber Assets

Much like having a strong lock on your front door, cyber security tools and software are critical defense measures to prevent unauthorized access.

In the news, we often see data breaches or identity theft as the most common types of cyberattacks. However, not having proper internet security also puts personal health information, intellectual property, and devices at risk. For example, an attacker can hijack your website and leave you vulnerable to ransomware. 

Cybersecurity has become a hot buzzword recently, with everyone talking about how important it is to remain safe while browsing online. The problem is that everyone talks about it, but most people don’t know how to practice proper web security. Even those who are fully aware of the threats can grow lax over time. They might forget to update their firewall or put off security adjustments until after the weekend. 

The Absolute Beginners Guide to Cyber Security – Part 4

Last Updated December 2020

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Learn the most effective tools and strategies to defeat hackers and malware and also ensure your privacy online | By Alexander Oni

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Here are some common attacks and the cyber security tools needed to defend against them.

Anti-malware

This is a program specifically designed to block, detect, and remove malicious software (malware) from commercial servers, networks, and personal devices. 

One example of anti-malware is the Kaspersky Antivirus program, which many cybersecurity professionals use. Like other anti-malware, the Kaspersky Antivirus program works in real-time, scanning all incoming data for malicious code, worms, and keyloggers and blocks anything that appears to be a threat. It also removes any unnecessary cookies and suggests ways to configure your browser for optimal security. 

Kaspersky prevents users from visiting websites that may contain viruses or malware. More importantly, it can stop the spread of these security threats if a device is infected. It’s highly praised for its easy interface and overall usability.

Without these important cyber security tools, individuals and businesses would be under the constant threat of viruses and other attacks. They risk losing personal data and proprietary business information. Worst of all, they can be targeted by ransomware, resulting in lost data and high fees.    

VPN (Virtual Private Network)

A simplified explanation of a VPN is that it provides security and privacy when accessing the internet. 

Once turned on, a VPN conceals your IP address and search history from being tracked by others outside the network. It also helps protect your data (passwords, credit card info, etc.) when entered into devices connected to that network.  

Without a VPN, you could potentially leave yourself – and your business – open to cyberattacks that could steal your data and/or install malware. Companies primarily use VPNs to allow authorized employees access to the network from remote locations or devices not connected to the main server.  

Whether at work or home, you should always use a secure network when online. This is even more important at locations like coffee shops or airports because hackers can scan the unsecured network’s traffic.

Brave browser

This browser was specifically developed to block ad trackers that collect browser information. It gives you an extra level of anonymity and prevents companies from profiting off your data.

Marketed to users who are particularly concerned about privacy, the Brave Browser is most often used by those who engage heavily in cryptocurrency buying, selling, and trading. It encodes the cryptocurrency in BAT (Basic Attention Tokens) for safe transmission. This can add an extra layer of protection to networks that are already secured or protected with complex passwords. 

However, anyone can use this browser.

The company publicly states that it has no intent to store any user data on its servers. Billing itself as the fastest, most private, and most secure browser, it is available for use across all platforms and devices.

Backups

Having a copy of data and personal information is priceless since some data is irreplaceable after a security breach or system failure. Equally important is how—and especially where—the data is stored.

Ideally, you want to have a copy of your data kept in cloud-based storage, as well as another copy offline on an external hard drive or flash drive. Naturally, you will want to secure both these copies with a strong password or keep them in a secure physical location. 

You will also want to do periodic updates to keep the data relevant. For example, you could backup your website every Sunday afternoon. Although doing routine backups may not be viewed as a primary cybersecurity tool, it’s an invaluable resource in the unfortunate event of a data loss or breach.

Firewalls

Much like anti-malware, firewalls filter information and activity to block malicious data and prevent breaches. Most people assume all firewalls work the same, but several types are available, depending on the desired purpose. 

Whether used in security software or hardware, or even if it’s cloud-based, the majority of firewalls function the same way. 

As a stop in the information highway, firewalls scan incoming information for malicious traffic and block any suspicious data before the network is exposed. Then the firewall will notify you of the threat for you to review and process. 

Firewalls are among the most important cyber security management tools in your arsenal since they offer a high level of protection without consuming much network space or memory.

Complex passwords

This is the single most effective tool individuals can use to bolster their cybersecurity. Having firewalls and virus-scanning software is absolutely ineffective if hackers can simply guess your password. 

One stolen password can lead to identity theft or even legal trouble. Also, using the same password across platforms leaves your entire digital footprint vulnerable.

The more complex a password is, the less likely it will be for your devices to get taken over by unauthorized individuals. Complex passwords should never be written down or used for more than two devices or websites. It’s best to use a password manager to keep track of them.

The ideal password should be at least ten characters long, with a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and special characters. 

Education

People are sometimes the weakest link in cyber defense since hackers can trick them into revealing a password or divulging sensitive information. It’s important for companies to constantly educate employees on how to recognize and avoid any cyber threats.

This education extends to the home environment. School-aged children are the fastest-growing demographic of computer and mobile users. However, they are often the unfortunate targets of malware or inappropriate content. 

While it’s best to supervise minor children when using computers or mobile devices, this isn’t always practical — especially in a school setting. 

Whether you have children or employees to look after, passive controls like a strong firewall and website monitoring are essential, as are proper password etiquette and good communication. Likewise, teach everyone under your care to never share personal details with anyone, especially given the prevalence of phishing scams.

Running software updates and patches

The one constant truth in cybersecurity is that things are always evolving, which is why it’s vital to run cybersecurity software updates periodically. While it is crucial to have the right software installed, even the best tools can be ineffective if they are out of date. 

Having the most up-to-date version of any software means that previous holes in your security system have been patched, and you have access to all the new features. Without the latest version, you could potentially leave yourself exposed to a virus – and unknowingly pass it on to friends and family members. 

Most software companies make it easy to update with an automatic pop-up window or scheduled update notification. Do not dismiss these messages. Updates may be annoying, but they are essential.

Developing a security mindset

Of course, having all the bells and whistles of the latest antimalware and multiple firewalls won’t really amount to much if you don’t have the right attitude. Whether at home or in the office, everyone needs to protect themselves and their assets. Being relentlessly vigilant about password protection and only using secured networks is only the beginning.  

Equally important is keeping pace with the latest threats. Since the tech world is constantly changing, today’s best practices can become outdated overnight. 

Conclusion

It falls on users to be proactive. Cyber security tools function like a chain. Having one missing link in your defense can potentially lead to the complete collapse of your entire system. 

Using all these tools may seem daunting at first, or even strange, but once you start using them on a daily basis, it may begin to feel more natural.

PS – If you are interested in learning more about cyber security and perhaps starting a career in cyber security, then why not check out my other article about the best cyber security certifications to go for.

Stay safe out there.

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